Category Archives: Contemporary Issues

Worldly Vision

Broken Vision

UPDATE: Just two days after the announcement, World Vision (US) have reversed their decision to hire same-sex couples. Praise be to our Lord. Important lessons can be learnt from this and the importance of maintaining strong Biblical convictions so that we are not moved by our culture.

Earlier this week, World Vision had announced that its American branch will allow same-sex couples who are legally married to be employed. World Vision has provided relief to countless people in need and is unparalleled in its size and practical aid. This organisation has been providing help to those in true need and for this we ought to be grateful.

Then why make this an issue? After all, Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision (US) states that this is a “very narrow policy change”. Stearns adds that “This is not compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of local churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.” Interestingly, Stearns says that World Vision (US) “will continue to expect abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage for all staff.” Regardless of what he says, the moment you depart from the clear teaching of God’s Word you have become worldly. This organisation claims to be motived by their faith in Jesus Christ, so they must be accountable to the Word of Christ in what they say.

This sad announcement provides some important lessons for God’s people.

Firstly, regardless of what is going on around us, God’s Word must be our final authority. If the Word says it we believe it! People may say they are not capitulating, but when the world is contrary to Scripture and you go with the world, you have capitulated. The Word of God is our authority. It is our duty to live by it and declare it.

Secondly, Christians are to be a faithful witnesses of the gospel in the world. Yes, let us have world vision but not worldly vision. When it comes to the world, those who profess faith in Christ can fall into one of two extremes. There are those who become worldly and there are those who become isolated. Both are wrong. As Christians, it is our duty to be salt and light in this corrupt and dark world (). I agree with Russell Moore when he said, “World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see”.

Thirdly, let us not lose sight of the priority and power of the gospel. To go against what Scripture teaches on a kingdom and moral issue (cf. ) is to show a lack of true love towards those we minister to. John Piper insightfully states, “When World Vision embraces as an acceptable alternative behavior what God says will lead to eternal suffering (), it sets a trajectory of lovelessness.” Sadly, many have responded with hate speech and a harsh condemnation to homosexuals and others in sin. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ ought to recognise that homosexuality is indeed sexual sin worthy of eternal punishment, but they must show the power of the gospel in providing hope for the homosexual and all sinners. Let us not lose sight of the priority and power of the gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” ().

Recommended Reading:

Pointing to Disaster – The Flawed Moral Vision of World Vision 
by Albert Mohler

World Vision: Adultery No, Homosexual Practice Yes
by John Piper

The Worldliness in World Vision’s New Hiring Policy
by Kevin DeYoung

On World Vision and the Gospel
by Russell Moore

 

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

A Word to those who are Single I: Concerning Singleness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Internet is filled with various “helps” for singles meeting singles. Among many in society and the church there appears to be this false notion that there is something wrong with being single. This false notion leads to an obsession where people try to mix and match people while disregarding their situation. Sadly, there are a number of silly expectations placed on those who are single and strange conclusions concerning their singleness. It doesn’t help when people look at those who are single and ask questions like, “I wonder what is wrong with that person?” Granted, being single means different things for different people. For some, the condition of being single is satisfying whereas for others it is a struggle (more on these descriptions in a later post).

When it comes to being single, there are different kinds of singleness. There are those who are gifted and called to be single (). There are those who are single but desire to marry. There are those who are single because they have lost their spouse through death or even divorce (). Then there is an additional category where people are single because they elevate celibacy as being most spiritual of states. This final category is unbiblical and to be completely rejected.

Does the Bible address the issue of singleness? Yes it does! In a series of posts I would like to look at what Scripture has to say on this topic of singleness. We will consider the advantages and challenges of being single. Then we will examine some biblical principles for the satisfied singles and the struggling singles. In this introductory post I will briefly look at the condition of singleness and provide some biblical understanding for those who are single.

Many view the single as a poor, miserable and pitied group. Is this fair? I don’t think so. Being single is a valid status, as long as it is in conformity to the principles found in God’s Word. In response to a particular question in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (). Here Paul is simply making the point that being single is a valid and commendable option for an individual (cf. ). Of course, this state must be marked by purity (“not to have sexual relations“). This does not mean Paul viewed marriage as inferior to being single. In the very next verse () Paul argues that if someone is not able to remain in the state of celibacy because of sexual temptation, it is better for him or her to marry (see also ). Furthermore, Paul taught that those who forbid marriage are apostates () and in his letter to the Ephesians he upheld the importance of marriage by identifying it as a picture of Christ and the church (). Paul had a high view of marriage but he did not relegate singles to second-class citizens. Both states are honorable if they are in conformity to the Word of God.

Being single is not to be placed in the category of a person with some problem. No, being single is a commendable and valid state whether it is temporary or permanent depending on the situation. History is filled with examples of believers who were single and yet faithful in their service to the Lord, like the apostle Paul, David Brainerd, Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor. We could also form a long list of those who were single due to the death of their spouse and rendered exemplary service to the Lord. Of course, the greatest of all examples of an individual that was single and most faithful is the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot improve on that!

If you are a Christian and single, don’t despair. Know and understand that your current status can be used to the glory of God. Perhaps you may be someone who desires to marry or you may be content in the situation you are in. In either situation, do not waste your current state on what ifs and activities that are meaningless! Right now you have a providential opportunity to live your life in accordance to the Word of God in a way that a married person can’t. It will be my goal in this series to provide sensitive encouragement and strong exhortation to singles. In my next post I want to talk about the advantages of being single.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:25-40

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Remember the Return of the King

Second Coming

As we approach a New Year, in the midst of many new year’s resolutions and commitments, as the people of God let us be resolved to remember the return of the King. The Bible promises on many occasions that the King, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God is going to return one day. We don’t know when, but we do know He will. The Old Testament prophets prophesied of His future coming (; ; ).

In we read the following from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself,

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”

Here we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is telling His disciples that they are to anticipate this future event. Of course, in order for Him to return He must first leave which He does at the end of the gospel accounts (; ; ). In Luke is recording the final days in which the Lord Jesus Christ was one earth with His disciples. As they had followed Him to the Mount of Olives and saw Him ascend to Heaven, we read these words,

“And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” ().

While they witnessed the ascension of Christ, the angels informed them that just as He ascended, so must He descend again one day.

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians in we read,

“and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” ().

The apostle Paul describes this revelation of Jesus Christ as an event that is accompanied with judgment. His saints will be released from hardship and the unbelieving will receive retribution.

Clearly, the anticipation of many portions of Scripture (so much more could be included in this post) is the anticipation of the future return of Jesus Christ. Old Testament prophets spoke of it, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicted this, angelic beings affirmed it, and apostles wrote of this as they prepared the church. It is a reality, promise and confident expectation – “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” ().

What does this mean for us as we approach yet another year? In the midst of a discussion on the events surrounding the Lord’s Second Coming, the apostle Peter writes, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” (). We are to remember His return by living lives that prove it. By the Lord’s help, let us be resolved in 2014 to remember the return of the King and walk in the pathway of holiness to the glory of God. Happy New Year.

13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

“‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

“‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,